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Compare the presentations of the mother and father in Seamus Deane's 'Readingin the dark'

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Compare the presentations of the mother and the father in the novel. What role does each of them play? What does each of them seem to represent? How does Seamus Deane evoke their characters and set them in contrast to each other? The presentations of the mother and father in Seamus Deane's 'Reading in the dark' are very different and the author appears to have set them in contrast to each other. Their roles with regards to their children appear through their relationships with them, especially with the narrator himself, as his relationship with his parents is at the heart of the novel, much like the young boy in Frank McCourt's 'Angela's Ashes'. The mother has an intense relationship with her son, who takes on her anxiety, and is watchful of her, every move. Within the first scene, 'Stairs' we see her lie about the presence which she is sensing on the stairs, in order to protect her son. ...read more.


He was saying something. Then he moved yet closer, almost stood on her shoes, which moved apart. One of his boots was between her feet. There was her shoe, then his boot, then her shoe, then his boot.' Later on in the novel we realise his strength and the extent to which he loves his wife, as he stands by her and their family during her breakdown. He continues to provide the stability, which his children need, for example, '"What does she mean?" I would ask him. "What's burning? What's the matter with her?" "It's a kind of sleepwalking," he would say, "dreaming. She's upset; but don't worry, she'll come round and be all right." ' In order to set the mother and Father in contrast to each other, Deane uses the secrets, which they are both harbouring, and the way they deal with keeping their secrets from their children and each other. ...read more.


As is commented by a critic from the 'Reading Group Center'1, 'the son pursues the truth until it turns his mother against him and ultimately drives him away from home, despite his painful love for his parents.' Deane uses central images throughout the novel in order to portray ideas to the reader, for example, the incident with the roses which not only reinforces the underground burning of the family's secret but acts as a metaphor for what is happening in Ireland. The narrator, in order to hurt his father, destroys and concrete's over his roses, which appear to be one of the only rays of colour and light within the family's life. By destroying this image of beauty, in anger and violence, the narrator has created a motif of torture and torment for his mother and father which almost signifies hell, for example, 'Walking on that concreted patch where the bushes had been was like walking on hot ground below which voices and roses were burning, burning.' 1 - http://www.randomhouse.com/vintage/read/reading/ 'Reading Group Center' ...read more.

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